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Over-Height Vehicle Warning System
Over-height warning signIn January 2001, a vehicle that was too tall hit the Harrisburg Bridge on State Route 99E, resulting in a closure of the bridge for fifteen days and a 45-minute detour around the bridge. In order to avoid these problems in the future, ODOT installed an over height vehicle warning system.
The system uses an infrared light beam to detect when a vehicle exceeds the allowable height for the bridge. If the beam is broken, flashing beacon warning signs - (as shown) will light up, advising the driver to take a detour.
On Jan. 29, 2001, the Willamette River Bridge at Harrisburg was badly damaged by a truck hauling a crane that was too tall to pass. The crash caused nearly $350,000 damage and closed the bridge and Oregon 99E to all vehicles for 15 days.
While repairs were underway, there was no way to drive across the Willamette River between Eugene and Corvallis. Harrisburg and Junction City, a mere four miles apart, suddenly were separated by 10 times that distance. With the bridge and highway closed, the residents and the economies of Harrisburg and Junction City both took a big hit. A normal 10-minute trip from one town to the other turned into a 45-minute odyssey through Coburg and Eugene. People who live on one side of the river and work in the other suddenly faced a long commute. Local businesses on both sides of the bridge suffered.
At the urging of Sen. Mae Yih, D-Albany, the Oregon Department of Transportation installed special electronic sensors on routes on either side of the Willamette River Bridge. The sensors automatically detect trucks that are carrying loads too tall to clear the bridge. When a truck that is too tall crosses an invisible light beam, a warning sign flashes telling the driver to take a detour instead of crossing the span.

References and Links
  1. For more information, contact the ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation Division via http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT/index.shtml